South Florida's Small Businesses Battle For Survival

Local lawmakers discuss ways to offer more financial help.

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South Florida’s small businesses are struggling to stay alive, with many owners wondering how much longer they can go on.

“It’s been extremely stressful, as it is I’m sure for everybody else,” said Monica Reckert, who runs Nothing Bundt Cakes in Miami-Dade with her husband, John.

The family bakery is dishing out fewer desserts lately, yet still maintaining 60 people on its payroll. But not the Reckerts themselves.

“We have not drawn a salary for the last month and a half or so,” said Reckert.

At Benny and Allan’s Automotive Services in South Miami, the shop is empty.

“We’ve lost at least a third of our savings already,” said Allan Borajero. “Small businesses, like ours for the most part, you pay last month’s bill with this month’s sales.”  

Borajero has applied for federal help from the Paycheck Protection Program, but he is still waiting to hear back.

“I mean we had to let go one guy last week, it’s been tough,” he said. Borajero’s shop has been around 22 years in the same spot. “Even if we do get back to work, I think it’s still gonna be slow until things just start picking up again.” 

Florida has exhausted the fund that offered small businesses a zero-interest loan. Money went to only a thousand businesses statewide. On Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Marco Rubio suggested federal stimulus dollars could help the state expand the help known as “bridge” loans.

“I do think it’s something that the state could use some of that $8 billion to replenish,” Rubio said, also noting he had no doubt the federal government would pass another stimulus package.  “We’ve gotta think creatively about how we can help these small businesses restart.”

Monica Reckerts said she’d prefer a grant to a loan, but really needs something else.

“It would be wonderful if like in May... or June... that things start to open up and we start to have opportunities to have more events," she said.

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